Wild Birds and Avian Influenza
An Introduction to Applied Field Research and Disease Sampling Techniques
by Scott Newman anf Field Harris
Publisher: FAO Animal Production and Health Manual
Edition: No. 5, 2007
Although H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus has been known for over a decade, the enormous impact of outbreaks in poultry across Asia, Africa and Europe since 2003, as well as deaths in over 200 humans, over 230 million poultry and thousands of wild birds, has made H5N1 HPAI and “bird flu” a part of common daily parlance. However, the
expression ‘highly pathogenic avian influenza’ is a chicken term, and should really not be used to describe the infection in other species (wild ducks, tigers, ferrets, or humans), even though the infection can be highly virulent in many species of animals. We prefer to call these infections AI virus infections or influenza viral infections of avian origin.
In response to the geographic spread of H5N1 and the deaths it has caused in wild bird populations to various degrees, as well as the concern that certain species of wild birds may play a role in the introduction and dissemination of the H5N1 virus along their flyways, FAO has been particularly interested to understand the interactions between wild and domestic birds. Within the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD), FAO has established a Wildlife Disease Programme to promote regional cooperation and action and increase in-country national and regional capacity building through the training and education of biologists, veterinarians, ornithologists and others to better integrate a common
understanding of pathogen transmission in affected environments.